Poem: The State of Things

By | Sep 13, 2018

On the day after Yom Kippur, I ride my bike along the waterfront.
Pious men build their sukkah before sunset.
Will they invite me to be their guest?
Priests and prophets are oblivious of emptiness.

The past is with me, an unhappy house
in my old neighborhood in Buenos Aires.
Across the river, platinum flickers.

There is a difference between dream and vision.
I want to describe the moon behind olive trees,
sunflowers against a black sky.
I want to keep the light that fills my bedroom
with the memory of a vacation home.
I want to fix what is broken before I can let it go.

The rabbi said one embrace can heal the world.
Cut off and childless, I want to know:
What sin did I commit? Which mark did I miss?

No one asks for forgiveness at the waterfront.
Longshoremen dance in Amsterdam.
The factory is gone.
I hear laughter in the rain.
I don’t have the words for a poem I need to write.

Pious men smoke and squint at skinny girls.
A string puppet plays the violin.
The Argentine bard’s name was
He who comes from faraway lands to say something.
I smell my hair in the evening wind.

Julia Knobloch’s poetry has appeared in Jewish Currents, Moment Magazine, Reform Judaism, Jewcy, Green Mountains Review, Rascal and elsewhere. She won the 2016 Poem of the Year Award from Brooklyn Poets. A trained journalist and documentary filmmaker, she now works in the Jewish nonprofit world and lives in Brooklyn.

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